Degenerative conditions such as spinal stenosis, in which the spinal column narrows, occur in approximately 95% of the population.
If you have been diagnosed with or suspect you may be suffering from spinal stenosis you may be searching for treatment options to overcome your condition and get back pain-free! While there are several different causes of spinal stenosis degenerative changes or the natural aging process, are typically the most common cause. These changes include disc height collapse, disc herniations, thickening of ligaments, or arthritic changes causing bone spur formation called spondylosis.
There’s no doubt that it’s scary to have spine and nerve pain. I’ve had it myself. I couldn’t sit, stand, walk, sneeze, or play sports because of how badly I had hurt. But there is hope. I’m completely pain-free and doing everything I want in life thanks to advances in spine care, along with the vast majority of people who get treated properly. Endoscopic spine surgery is a complete game-changer– this ultra-minimally invasive surgery takes care of the painful nerve pressure and gets you back to the life you love.
Spinal Stenosis in the Low Back
Spinal stenosis may occur throughout the spine but is typically more common in the lumbar spine (low back) however more dangerous in the cervical spine due to the proximity to the spinal cord. Patients often complain of general neck or back pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs, which we refer to as radiculopathy. Lumbar spinal stenosis may cause pain and radiculopathy or symptoms of neurogenic claudication. Symptoms of neurogenic claudication include pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, or heaviness in the legs that often worsen with prolonged standing or walking. Pain often is improved with sitting or bending forward.
Spinal Stenosis in the Neck
In cervical or thoracic spinal stenosis patients may or may not experience pain or symptoms of radiculopathy. Often, they present with symptoms of myelopathy which is the term used to describe neurologic symptoms related to the spinal cord. Myelopathy may cause permanent spinal cord injury and if left untreated damage may lead to paralysis or death. Symptoms of myelopathy include difficulty with balance, heaviness in the arms or legs, abnormal gait, dropping objects, clumsiness, or difficulty with fine motor skills such as typing or writing.
Most Patients with Spinal Stenosis Get Better Without Surgery
What I can reassure patients is that most of the time, we can get patients feeling better without surgery! However, there are certain times when these conditions do require surgery. In general terms, lumbar spinal stenosis simply means nerve pressure in the low back. One of the most common causes of stenosis is the disc herniation, or when a disc (the shock absorbers of the low back) ruptures and presses on the nerves. There’s just about nothing more painful and challenging to deal with than spinal stenosis. This can make every aspect of your life challenging, from simple tasks like caring for children and cleaning the house to high-level activities like running, hiking, and playing sports.
New Minimally-Invasive Treatment Option for Patients with Spinal Stenosis – Endoscopic Spine Surgery
As the first spine surgeon to perform endoscopic spine surgery at Reston Hospital Center I am helping to reshape the future of spine care for patients. What this means are improved patient safety and reduced recovery times; ultimately getting those suffering from neck or back conditions back to their lives faster. Through a micro-incision (less than 1cm), I utilize the magnification of an HD-endoscope to perform microsurgery. Minimally invasive procedures are now commonplace in spinal surgery, but endoscopic spine surgery utilizes ultra-minimally invasive technology that enhances traditional surgical techniques. The advantage of a smaller incision (less than 1cm) and the introduction of a high-resolution camera minimizes tissue disruption and reduces post-operative pain for the patient. Typically performed as an outpatient procedure, patients undergo less anesthesia and experience improved recovery times.
How is Endoscopic Spine Surgery Performed?
A wide-reaching innovation, endoscopic spine surgery has the promise to transform the lives of patients with spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and disc herniations. Endoscopic spine surgery has unleashed the new potential for faster, safer, and more effective surgical recoveries. When it comes to spine surgery, it’s all about being as gentle to the body as possible. The spine is deep down under muscle and to treat your condition, we need to get to the spine itself. The problem with many old-school, traditional spinal surgeries is that they involved large cuts of the skin and muscle. That hurts! If the surgeon isn’t careful, problems can arise. That’s where endoscopic spine surgery comes into play. Endoscopic surgery is an ultra-minimally invasive surgery with an incision the size of the tip of a pen. Through this tiny incision, I can spread, not cut, muscle and insert a microscopic camera. This allows me to take painful pressure off of nerves without removing any of the surrounding muscles or bones. Endoscopic spine surgery lets me get to the problem and fix the problem as if I was never there. Typically, patients don’t even feel the incision, so we avoid almost all surgical pain. Additionally, no damage is done to the important nearby muscles and bones, so your back is kept as normal as it was before the nerve pressure ever happened. That means faster recovery with more long-term protection to your spine.
Get the Answers You Deserve to Get Back to Pain-Free Living
This treatment milestone is an essential breakthrough for future spinal procedures as the specialists at Virginia Spine Institute work to advance endoscopic technology for spinal fusions and spinal decompressions. I’m proud to dramatically improve the lives of patients suffering from back pain by pioneering treatment solutions like this that get them back to their active lifestyles faster.
If you’ve been told that you need surgery because of your spinal stenosis, or simply your back or neck hurts and won’t get better, schedule a consultation (in-person or telemedicine available) if endoscopic surgery is right for you.
Reviewed by: Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS.
Reviewed by: Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS.